So, you’re thinking about starting an email newsletter for your property management company. Excellent. Fourth quarter is a great time to establish goals and plans for your business in the New Year!
An email newsletter seems like (and really…is) a simple way to educate and foster positive communication with your clientele. Through a newsletter, you can proactively share updates and announcements, as well as educate your owners, tenants, and prospects all at once, rather than try to pass along information and useful knowledge to them one at a time.
I’m something of an email marketing expert, thanks to my 4 ½ year stint working as a consultant/trainer for Infusionsoft and 6 years of experience producing and sending property management newsletters, so I want to share some words of wisdom to help you avoid these common newsletter mistakes.
Mistake #1 – Ignoring the Rules
I’m putting this at the top of the list, because I’ve had more than one conversation with property managers who seem unaware that email marketing is a permission based marketing channel. Most email marketing software providers (like Infusionsoft) monitor their clients to make sure they are complying with government regulations. Here are some general guidelines. If you don’t read anything else in this article, read this! (Don’t make the mistake of being perceived as a spammer…)
Import existing clientele.
You already have a relationship with your existing owners, tenants, and vendors, so they are the easiest to obtain permission from. Announce your email newsletter BEFORE sending the first issue. Ask people to respond if they don’t want to receive it, and take them off of the email list. When you import the list into your email marketing system, send a confirmation email that gives the remaining people a chance to confirm their permission (or unsubscribe) before the first issue goes out. Make sure each newsletter has an easy-to-find unsubscribe link. Unsubscribes are far more desirable than SPAM reports, and even your current owners and tenants might not want to be on your list forever.
Invite prospects, real estate agents, and others.
Do not import prospects, real estate agents, or other questionable people into your system, even if you assume you have a positive relationship with them. They represent a high risk for SPAM complaints, which in turn represents a risk of you getting shut down by your email marketing system provider. Instead INVITE them to join your email list. Make sure you have a signup form that feeds them directly into your email marketing system and sends a confirmation email. Include a link to the signup form in email signatures and in your website so it is easily available to anyone who wants to join your list.
Mistake #2 – Irrelevant Content
Design the newsletter content with the reader in mind. It is really best to do separate newsletters for owners and tenants because their needs and interests are different. This may take a little more time, but the time is well spent. People unsubscribe from newsletters they feel are irrelevant or contain a lot of information they don’t care about.
Be careful about adding too much promotional content to your newsletters. This can also be perceived as irrelevant and will cause people to report SPAM, unsubscribe, or ignore your newsletters.
At the same time, it is OK to have quality content that includes a related call-to-action.
Mistake #3 – Sending Frequency
Timing is important when sending email newsletters. Although there are plenty of studies about how often to send, what day to send on, and what time of day to send…predictability and consistency reign.
I once had a conversation with another email marketing expert and we agreed that the best day/time to send a newsletter is when the majority of your subscribers are checking their email. Unfortunately, that is really hard to determine.
What you can control, however, is maintaining a predictable schedule on your end. For instance, the LandlordSource newsletter goes out around the 2nd Tuesday of the month. this is to avoid rent week (1st – 5th) when you are probably too busy to read the LandlordSource newsletter, Professional Management Matters. Sometimes we mix things up (like we did this month) to avoid major holidays or industry events (like the NARPM® National Convention). We usually send the newsletter at 11AM Eastern, since we email property management companies across the United States. Predictability helps subscribers know what to expect.
Another thing you can control is consistency. Put a system in place to send your newsletter every time without fail. It’s really not that difficult. Mark the following activities on your calendar and assign responsibilities to appropriate staff members.
- Write or gather content – Remember, you don’t need to write everything yourself. You can purchase content, highlight content from your website, and/or link to relevant content posted on other websites (as long as proper credit is given).
- Update the newsletter – Add new content, review static content (like personnel lists) to see if any changes are needed, and incorporate company news & announcements.
- Update your list – Add new owners, tenants, prospects, and others to your email list, after obtaining permission. Remove owners, tenants, and others who no longer do business with you – they represent SPAM complaint risks.
- Test, proofread, and correct the newsletter – Send yourself and at least one other person a copy of the newsletter to check for and correct mistakes. It is also a good idea to see how the design and layout renders in a couple of different email programs.
- Send the newsletter – Determine the newsletter frequency and stick with it.
Mistake #4 – Poor Readability
Do you want owners and tenants to read your newsletter? Then make it easy. Remember, they are far more likely to scan your newsletter than read every word.
- Use easy to read fonts. Make sure the fonts are large enough and that the style is rather plain throughout most of the newsletter. Fancy fonts are harder to read.
- Avoid bright background and font colors that can cause eye strain and give the newsletter a feeling of chaos rather than calm.
- Use bullets where possible. In some situations, less is more. Don’t feel like you have to fill in with a lot of unnecessary verbiage.
- Organize content. Use white space, divider lines, graphics, and headers to break up your content into readable chunks.
- Be concise. Use short sentences, paragraphs, and common language to get your points across.
- Make it attractive. Add relevant graphics, use color, integrate your company’s branding, and make the newsletter look just as professional as your company website. If you are not talented in this area, hire someone to set up the newsletter template for you, then all you need to do is add content for each issue, the design will be done.
Mistake #5 – Lack of Engagement
One reason email is such a great marketing tool is because it give you the ability to track engagement. You can see whether your time and financial investment is paying off or not. Email providers (like Gmail) take open and clicks (engagement metrics) into consideration as part of the algorithm that determines if an email goes to the inbox or to junk mail. Emails that are consistently ignored may end up in junk mail, even if your reader did not intentionally designated them as junk.
Here are some tips to help you improve and monitor engagement.
- Opens – The first tracking point for a newsletter is an “open.” While an open is not a sure-fire indicator that the newsletter is being read, it does tell you that some people are interested enough to open it in their email program. The biggest factors in getting people to open a newsletter are 1) using a consistent, recognizable “from” email address and 2) creating a motivating subject line. Make sure your subject line is not too generic. Include a “teaser” that accurately represents the newsletter content. For example, we add the name of our newsletter (for predictability) and the title of the first article. This is a down-to-earth approach that has yielded good results for us.
- Clicks – Clicks are a true indication of engagement. If someone clicks on a link, then they read enough of your newsletter to take some kind of action. It’s good to incorporate a few relevant links into your newsletter like links to blog articles on your website, videos, online portals, featured listings, maintenance request forms, online payment systems, and more. Again, link clicks are part of the algorithm used by email providers to determine junk vs. relevant email, so use them strategically to foster engagement.
- Unsubscribes – If you do a great job of maintaining your email list, you should not see very many unsubscribes. If your unsubscribe rate is high, it usually means that you are not removing irrelevant people from your list, you send too frequently, or that your content is too promotional. This is a form of engagement, but not a desirable result of your newsletter marketing efforts.
- SPAM Reports – You want to avoid this kind of engagement as much as possible. If you don’t make Mistake #1, then you shouldn’t see many SPAM reports at all.
So, you’re thinking about starting an email newsletter for your property management business. Excellent.
Even though I’m an expert email marketer, I don’t think it requires an expert for email marketing programs to be successful. Just take time to educate yourself and then put a plan in place to make it happen.
Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.